Growing numbers of new electric vehicle (EV) models—combined with historically high gas prices—are leading to a surge in EV sales in the U.S. In fact, EV sales are expected to increase 37 percent in 2022 versus 2021. Nationally, EV sales will likely exceed one million in 2024 and two million—more than 10 percent of new vehicle sales—by 2026. And several states, including California, will stop selling gas-powered vehicles by 2035.
The migration to EVs presents a great business opportunity for restaurants. You can attract additional customers, employees, and investors by simply adding charging stations in your parking lots. If your restaurant isn’t yet thinking about your strategy for attracting key audiences with electric charging stations, you should be.
Embrace the EV trend. As more people adopt EVs, consider how consumers’ needs will change. Since EVs have a finite battery life, people will need to periodically charge their cars, so offer charging stations and give them a reason to stay while their cars are charging. Food is the best way to do this, so provide delicious food and a comfortable, clean seating area.
Entice consumers, employees, and investors. Increasingly, people (especially millennials) want to associate with brands that support sustainability. In addition to attracting customers and prospects, installing charging stations can attract potential employees, who often prefer to work for an eco-friendly company. This can be a key differentiator for your restaurant during the ongoing labor shortage. Charging stations can also attract investors eager to support sustainable brands.
Understand the changing landscape. Numerous types of businesses are competing for EV traffic—and enticing consumers to come and stay awhile. Restaurants, shopping centers, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and even car washes are adding charging centers and giving customers something to do—eat, shop, vacuum their car—while they wait. This is a golden opportunity for restaurants, so consider adding (and proactively promoting!) onsite charging stations.
Set yourself apart from the competition. To have a successful restaurant, you need to provide delicious food, exceptional customer service, and an inviting atmosphere. But to really stand out, you must figure out other ways to set yourself apart from your competitors. Installing EV charging stations gives customers and prospects another reason to visit your restaurant rather than your competitors. An EV charging station will also attract repeat customers, who will know firsthand that your restaurant can accommodate their needs. Moving forward, EV charging stations will play a huge role in building brand loyalty.
Attract visitors as well as locals. In addition to capturing a loyal, local customer base, EV charging stations can also attract potential guests who are visiting your area. When businesses install an EV charging station, they can register on apps like Open Charge Map, Zap-Map, etc., which help EV owners find nearby charging stations. After visiting your restaurant, guests will remember your brand as a convenient charging stop and an organization that supports sustainability and clean transportation.
Increase “dwell” time. People need something to do while recharging their EV, which can lead to them spending extra time—and money—at your restaurant. Not only will they enjoy eating a meal, but they’ll have a good excuse to linger and order another drink, coffee, or dessert while they wait for their car to charge. These “extra” items can help drive up revenue for your business.
Appeal to a desirable demographic. Over 70 percent of EV buyers have a four-year college degree or higher and make more than $100,000 per year. Gen X and Millennials, the demographics most likely to buy EVs, have disposable income to spend. Anything that makes their busy lives easier and more convenient will appeal to them. In other words, restaurants that have EV charging stations will be more attractive (and more likely to secure their business).
Elevate inspections and audits. Consumers want a clean, safe place to eat (and charge their cars). Therefore, use tech tools to conduct daily inspections, ensure foods are held at proper temps, check cleanliness, etc. Ditch paper systems, which can’t validate whether checks occurred, and rely on software for easily accessible inspection records instead. Hire third-party inspectors for external validation. These assessments will identify areas of noncompliance so you can take immediate corrective actions.
Ensure all suppliers follow strict safety and quality protocols. In addition to implementing strict QA programs, monitor your suppliers to be certain they have proper food safety protocols and structured QA programs in place. Use tech tools to organize and manage supplier certifications. Audit suppliers to ensure they’re compliant before you work with them (and throughout your collaboration).
Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. If your restaurant is implementing a sustainability strategy, adding EV charging stations is a smart step to take. Adding charging stations demonstrates to your employees, customers, and potential investors that you’re not just “talking the talk,” but you’re taking action to promote sustainability and reduce emissions. By installing complimentary charging stations, you’re showing EV owners that you understand and share their values.
Electronic vehicles will grow in popularity in the coming years. As EV ownership spikes, there will be an increase in consumers looking for convenient, safe, clean places to charge their vehicles. Installing EV charging stations will be an effective way for restaurants to attract new audiences, boost sales, differentiate themselves from the competition, and increase brand loyalty.
Dallas Henderson, a 25-year veteran of the service industry, is an Account Manager at RizePoint. RizePoint is disrupting traditional market software with their innovative, new product platform Ignite Supplier Certification Management, which helps small to medium sized businesses simplify the supplier certification and maintenance process. To discuss RizePoint’s solutions, please contact Dallas at email@example.com.